I'll admit it: I had no intention of tracking down fighters, cornering them and asking them annoying questions.
I was in New Orleans to revel in the Bud Light-sponsored fan experience, snap a few photos, hit the French Quarter (hard) and enjoy a relaxing weekend from stands. Sure, I'd do a little write up when all was said and done, but that was about it.
That all changed when I landed and realized I had no idea where I was going. I'd made it to the airport in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., boarded the plane and landed at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport two hours later (although I actually gained an hour in the air).
From that point on I had seemingly removed myself from reality. I also didn't read my emails completely, which just about anyone who knows me will tell you, is the rule rather than the exception. I can't help it. Details dislike me. And the feeling is mutual.
So as I feverishly sifted through various emails while taxiing on the tarmac, sent out a few that I probably shouldn't, I found it, "Battle on the Bayou Weekend Schedule." On it was everything I needed, including my accommodations. That's where, naturally, I stopped reading.
Hilton New Orleans Riverside was the destination. The rest didn't matter. Shortly after check-in, however, that all changed. I received a call from the fine folks at Bud Light, telling me that Shane Carwin had arrived early and that they were all waiting for me downstairs in the Prince of Wales room.
After a quick wardrobe change and about five minutes of cramming, I scurried downstairs, unsure of what I was about to get myself into. I was pleasantly surprised.
Shane Carwin: Do you know what Rocky Mountain oysters are?
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Uh, I've got a pretty good idea. I think. They're bull balls, right?
Shane Carwin: Ha! Yeah, these guys [Andrew and Michael, Bud Light representatives who were also in the room] had no idea. They thought I was pulling their leg. I told them I had different kinds of oysters where I lived. I don't know if they were thinking that they were in the water or what, but I was like, "they're bull nuts." Good times. I'll send you some in the mail.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: I think I'm going to pass, but thanks for the offer. Anyway, what have you been up to these days (I really had no idea)?
Shane Carwin: Honestly, I've just been enjoying my family and staying at home. I'm still working as an engineer. So I just enjoyed time off from fighting there for a little bit.
Shane Carwin during his UFC 131 bout with Junior dos Santos. Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: If I remember correctly, you were cut up pretty bad in your most recent fight against Junior dos Santos. Any of those injuries keep you on the sidelines longer than expected?
Shane Carwin: It's still pretty ugly man, right (as he points to scarred meat dangling from his eye)? But it's okay, I've now got a big 'ole freakin' ball there or something. It took a while. I think I had sutures in about five different spots on my face. It was pretty bad. It took a little time, but it's part of the game. I don't mind it. In fact, I kind of enjoy the warrior wounds, you know? I'm already ugly so it doesn't really matter.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: And you're already married.
Shane Carwin: [Laughs] You're right, I am already married.
Shane Carwin's wife (she was also in the room): I'm not really sure how that works out for me, but whatever [Laughs]!
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: So right now, you're completely healthy -- the back and the eye are all healed up?
Shane Carwin: The back is as good as it can be. I've got some issues back there, but I just do my best to not make it any worse and stay as healthy as possible.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: You're in New Orleans this weekend to promote a fight/event that you aren't even participating in. When the UFC/Bud Light called you, did you hesitate?
Shane Carwin: Not at all. Bud Light is a first-class sponsor. Everything with them is completely organized, and at the same time, all their people are very down to Earth and very enjoyable to work with.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: You're one of only two UFC fighters that Bud Light sponsors, the other being light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. What's it mean to be handpicked by such a huge company, clearly the promotion's most high-profile?
Shane Carwin: It's the best. It's something to be real proud of to have Bud Light as a sponsor. They're one of the biggest, most mainstream sponsors across all sports. It's means a lot when you can say that you're sponsored by Bud Light.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: What do you think about the guys like Nick Diaz, and even Georges St. Pierre, who openly admit that doing things like this is something they hate. Wouldn't you rather be home with your wife and kids?
Shane Carwin: It always depends on where you are at. Right now, I'm in a relaxed state. I'm not training for a particular opponent. So to do something fun like this, come down here to spend a little time with my wife, we get to enjoy New Orleans a little bit, so this is a fun trip. Now, when you're in a camp and you're trying to train, you've got set meals planned, and you're trying to be real organized and they want to send you here, or fly there, I don't think a lot of guys want to do that stuff. It's a big disruption. Then again, it is part of the business. We choose to be in this and that's part of it, so we just have to all accept it.
Shane Carwin: Ah! Here we go. This is like two days after the loss to Junior. Check out all the swelling (He shows me a brutal pic of his face that is saved on his cell phone that he has obviously been looking for while talking to me).
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Damn! That's crazy. Can you send that to me?
Shane Carwin: Ha! Can you imagine? There is a reason that never made it out [to the public]. My wife had a serious talk with me after that one.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: I believe it. How did your children react when you walked through the door looking like that? How do you explain something like that?
Shane Carwin: Well, Kameron watched it, so he thought it was kind of cool, I think. You know, he's just all boy. And our daughter, she's a lot younger, when she saw me she just ran up and gave me a big hug.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Let's talk about that loss real quick. How bittersweet, if at all, was it considering that you somehow survived that first round and continued to fight for two more?
Shane Carwin: I'm disappointed in myself, for sure. You always learn things, and it was real important to come out of that fight having learned something. Not only learn, but have the ability to improve.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: So what did you learn, specifically?
Shane Carwin: I need to bring back the tenacity. Be more tenacious. That's who I am as a fighter and how I got to the Octagon. I need to bring that back and focus more on that sort of stuff, the stuff that got me here. I can't take away from that so much.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Did the previous loss to Brock Lesnar, with the whole adrenaline dump issue, help you persevere at all beyond that first round?
Shane Carwin: You know what, actually, I think it became too much of a focus. You guys, the media, decided to pick and harp on it. So then my coaches picked up and harped on it. It became a bigger issue than it really was. That was the focus of the entire camp for Junior. Honestly, I felt I could have gone 10 rounds. I doubt there is any heavyweight who is capable, or willing, to do that. I was in shape for that Brock fight. I threw something like 110 punches in one round, which is something most heavyweights don't do in an entire fight. I just got a little to excited.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: I think everybody did.
Shane Carwin: Yeah, it's a tough sport. Right now you get thrown in there pretty fast. It's like Brendan [Schaub], he's like my little brother, and when he was fighting on the smaller shows, I told him that the UFC was going to be calling him any day, be ready. And at this point he only had four fights or something crazy. So you get thrown into these things pretty fast. Even if you have a dozen or more fights, you're still trying to figure this sport out. By that time, if you're winning, you're probably already fighting elite guys. I don't know. It's all exciting. I just like to get in there and bang.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: You're coming off back-to-back losses, how important is it to win your next fight? Is there any added pressure?
Shane Carwin: I don't think I feel any different. I just want to go in there and perform. I just want to go in there and fight and win. I'm very competitive. I just want to get in there and compete against the best. Challenge myself, so that's where we're at right now.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: You say that you want to compete against the best, but right now, it seems that the best are all locked into fights. Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Who's left?
Shane Carwin: There are another 10 guys out there who are top fighters. The heavyweight division is very deep. I don't know who [the UFC] is going to come up with, but I'm sure it will be a good name.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: So, at this point, no names have been floated and nothing has been proposed?
Shane Carwin: I expect to fight at the end of the year, or the beginning of next, so maybe they are waiting to see what happens in these next few weeks. I don't know.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Let's say dos Santos loses in November and the UFC approaches you with a rematch for, say, February 2012. What would you do differently?
Shane Carwin: Like I said, I think I would be more tenacious. More of who I am as a fighter. Definitely bring the fight to him a little more. I think I backed off there a little bit and tried to trade punches with him.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Do you remember much of that fight or no?
Shane Carwin: Uh, I remember pieces of it. But I haven't watched it yet.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Is there a reason for that?
Shane Carwin: To be honest, I don't watch a lot of my fights.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: They typically don't last very long, so that can't be a reason.
Shane Carwin: Ha, well, the last one was long, unfortunately.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Who hit you harder, dos Santos or Lesnar?
Shane Carwin: Uh, did Brock even hit me? I don't think he ever even hit me. Gabriel Gonzaga hits the hardest. That guy is a train. He's still, in my opinion, one of the best heavyweights. He's very talented. I think he's uber talented. If he can get his mental state right, the sky is the limit for him.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: You recently declared that you were excited to have Alistair Overeem finally in the UFC fold. How do you think he'll do? That's a tough first fight against Brock Lesnar.
Shane Carwin: It is. You've got a predominately strong striker against a predominantly strong wrestler. If Brock's unable to get him to the ground, it'll probably be a short night. But if Brock gets him to the ground, I think he finishes that fight. It's an exciting match up.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Have you been watching the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament at all?
Shane Carwin: A little bit. I didn't catch the most recent one, however, because we were at the corn maze with the kids.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Right. The corn maze.
Shane Carwin: [Laughs] Yeah, we have corn mazes in Colorado. You walk through this maze of corn and have to figure out how to get out the other end. There were also some corn canons and pumpkin canons ... a petting zoo. Anyway ...
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Well, I was going to ask you about what you thought of Josh Barnett and his recent run.
Shane Carwin: He's a tough heavyweight. I always thought he's been the real deal. Hopefully, someday they work it out where we combine [the UFC and Strikeforce] because I think that will be exciting for the fans. That's arguably the best division in Strikeforce.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Well, he's had issues with Dana White in the past ...
Shane Carwin: I think other people have also had issues, too, and they have seemed to work them out, you know? That's between them. But, hopefully, it gets worked out. I'd love to see him come over and fight in the Octagon or somehow do a cross promotion deal.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: How significant is the UFC on FOX?
Shane Carwin: It's great. It's another stepping stone for our sport. We've got the major sponsors involved like Bud Light and now we have a major network to go along with it. I think it's going to open a lot of eyes to the public on how great these fights are. Specifically, the UFC and how great they run things. This is going to be a lot better than any of the other shows that were on a major network.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Are you a little disappointed when you think that could have been you in that main event opposite Cain had the outcome with Junior been different?
Shane Carwin: Absolutely. I want to compete against the best. Listen, if you're not in this to be a champion then why fight? That's where I want to be. It's still my goal. And I hope I can get there one day.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Well, you're 36 years old now and will soon turn 37. How much time do you really have left?
Shane Carwin: I'm getting into the Randy Couture years [laughs]. I don't really know. We take it day-by-day, fight-by-fight. It seems like the years pass by fast, so we'll see. A lot of it depends on my health and not having surgeries every year. We'll see and we always discuss that.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Okay, back to the Velasquez-dos Santos fight. Who will win and why?
Shane Carwin: It's a great match up. A great fight. I wish Cain wasn't coming off surgery. I think that's going to be hard for him to overcome. He's been out for a while, but hopefully he's recovered fully from that and can show his true potential. JDS is hungry, though, man. If I had to lean one way or the other, I think I'd take Junior in that fight.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Round, method?
Shane Carwin: I don't know. This is such a toss up. Maybe a decision? I don't really know. Five rounds is a long time for a heavyweight. I think Junior did real well in his fight with me.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Well, he threw a lot of punches and was still there until the very end.
Shane Carwin: Yeah, my face showed a lot of punches [laughs].
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Okay, I think that's all I got. How about a speed round?
Shane Carwin: What?
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Bud or Bud Light?
Shane Carwin: Bud Light
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: For real or are you just saying that?
Shane Carwin: No, for real, Bud Light is all we drink. I drank it before Bud Light even sponsored me.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Can, bottle or can-bottle?
Shane Carwin: It used to be bottle, but now that we got the boat it's usually cans.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Tastes great or less filling?
Shane Carwin: Tastes great
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Better mascot -- Spuds Mckenzie or Taco Bell Chihuahua?
Shane Carwin: Ha! Spuds all the way.
Thomas Myers, MMA Nation: Bud Bowl 2012 winner?
Shane Carwin: Bud Light!